Guitarist Kerry Wilkins is set to wow the world once again. A Houston Texas born lifelong lover of jazz, as well as some of the finest cross-genre guitarists such as Hendrix and Santana, he has also excelled as a player, songwriter, and producer in all three disciplines of his music. His childhood home in Houston was always full of music for a young mind to be inspired.
At age 12 Wilkins took up the guitar and found his true calling. At 16 he joined up with some local friends’ band which played R&B and pop music, and in the following year he joined his high school’s stage band and became fully immersed in the performance of jazz.
Though always inspired by the records of his youth, from the likes of guitarists such as George Benson, Earl Klugh, Ernie Isley, Prince, Nile Rodgers, and Ray Parker Jr. just to name a few. Inspired also by what he had heard at jazz clubs in Houston, Wilkins used the stage band as a springboard to write his own compositions – certainly no easy feat in such an elite, complex, and often elusive genre such as jazz. Ever expanding his range of influences, experiences and knowledge in the mastery of his instrument, Wilkins teamed up with jazz saxophonist Kyle Turner after playing with a few other local pop and R&B bands.
After Turner’s short stint with acclaimed R&B vocalist Luther Vandross, Wilkins eventually reunited with him in 1989 and formed Kyle Turner & Standing Room Only, a contemporary jazz band that recruited other like-minded and gifted players. The band moved from Houston to Austin, TX., and was a huge hit playing the Austin jazz scene. They got a chance to open for bigger names in jazz such as The Rippingtons, Spyro Gyra, Richard Elliot, Najee, Natalie Cole, and others. Wilkins was always something a little extra special in those performances, never simply delivering the expected, always pushing the guitar into the forefront of contemporary jazz.
Playing with Kyle Turner is just one of many examples of this guitarist’s great ability to collaborate and perform with others. His discography is extensive and varied, simply because he is more than capable of adapting his unique playing to whichever musical style of his choosing. Performing on more than 20 albums is a matchless contribution to music in today’s world, including his first solo album “The Introduction”, released in 2001.
The album received airplay from coast to coast in the US and gained Wilkins an audience from the states to the UK, Japan, and Africa. Clearly his intention to “transcend ages and all ethnic groups” was achieved with the record’s success.
Onstage he has equally been impressive with contemporary jazz artists such as Kim Waters, Marion Meadows, Kirk Whalum, Bobby Lyle, Ronnie Laws, the late Ollie Woodson (formerly of the Temptations), Alex Bugnon, and many others. Like bamboo, his strength lies in his flexibility. It makes sense that he has in the last few years turned his hand to playing keyboards, bass guitar, and drums to achieve the “all Wilkins” sound on his solo albums. As he says, “My music is special because most of it is original music I created or co-created. My music also connects with the listener mentally and emotionally.
After the release of The Introduction, Wilkins threw himself into an incredible number of projects. And this, his sophomore CD “Follow My Lead”, is one of the ripe fruits of his playing and writing endeavors. Featuring twelve tracks that are a mixture of Smooth and Contemporary Jazz, it has songs that featured artists like Bobby Lyle, vocalist D-Mac (formerly of the Mac Band), jazz keyboardist Bernard Wright, saxophonist Kyle Turner, Dallas saxophonist Don Diego, Dallas keyboardist Larry Davis, and Houston’s own powerhouse vocalist Liz Vaughn. Bio for Kerry Wilkins
After a brief hiatus from recording, Wilkins had been contemplating doing a concept album in which he literally does everything from start to finish. That came to fruition in 2015 when he bought some new recording software, and with help from many YouTube videos, he completed this feat in March 2016.
The album is called “The Myself Project”, a 12-track CD in which he did literally did “everything”. He wrote every song, played every instrument, recorded, mixed, mastered the project, and uploaded it himself. The album is a mixture of smooth, contemporary, fusion, and straight-ahead jazz. After listening to artists such as Stevie Wonder, Prince, and Marcus Miller who in their prime worked in their studios alone playing most, if not all the instruments, Wilkins had a passion for creating songs by doing all the instrumentation. That dream came true with this latest project.
Kerry reflects on the music he’s making and the direction he is heading. “I see my music as a means of communicating what I feel and what I think. Music helps me to express myself without interruption or inhibition.” Right now, he’s teamed up with WKM records doing the writing, pre-production, and engineering sessions such as his own and with artist Jimmy B. Plans of a new EP are in the works as well as a new single called “Heaven” to be released late summer/early fall of 2022.
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